April 30, 2005


Halle Berry in a leather catsuit is one of the wonders of the contemporary world, a triump of generations of MTV evolution. Her physical transition from klutz to catvamp is a great ad for graceful. I apologize to nobody for spending $4.99 on Catwoman.

There's also philosophy here: Patience is a good, plodding, conscientious girl who isn't getting any of much of anything. When the magic cats get through with her, she's good sometimes and bad sometimes, but only as bad as she wants to be, and she gets anything she wants. Being bad consists mostly in some pretty aggressive kissing, an occasional scratch, and some fancy moves with a whip.

This is what lots of people think about moral philosophy: it is a set of lessons in how to be inoffensively dull. I don't think that has ever been the point, but that is what common understanding takes to be the point.

People who teach ethics would be well advised to spend some time meditating on Catwoman. The ethics show needs some leather.

Posted by shea0017 at 11:57 AM

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

This is an art deco comic book.

I suppose any work of art begins a world, and the viewer is invited to imagine it going on and on, beyond the last story in the book, beyond the borders of the painting. That's the charm of works of art: they give us a fully developed alternative to the here and now we are otherwise stuck in.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is deeply arty that way. It just assumes that dirigibles succeeded, that Hitler didn't happen, the military enterprise went private. Also, it changes the light on things and the fundamental requirements of form and style, softening the light and making the edges of things sharper, consistently. Machines look really machiney. Girls look soft. Guys look tough. Scientists look nerdy.

Lots of us had our first real literary experience with comic books, and learned that literature was an unreal place to go and then come back from. I don't think more complicated theories get it any righter than that, and it is nice to be reminded of the fundamental kick of literature in such a pure way.

Posted by shea0017 at 11:37 AM

April 8, 2005

Limited edition video

The range of choices for communication is expanding. Up to now, if I had a message for a small number of people, I could send them an email. Recently, it has become possible to send voice files and video files as email. I can also post such messages in a low traffic public space, like a blog.

Another option is becoming real: to produce limited edition dvds for those one wants to talk to. On the face of it, that's a worse option than email or sending a file, since it takes more work and involves the transport of an object to people's offices or mailboxes. However, for some very important purposes, this is the right choice of media. One has control of the way such a product will be used, in ways that one does not have with anything one sends by email. (A dvd will either be viewed entire or discarded. It won't be skimmed.) Further, the vast amount of information contained in tone and body language comes across on a full screen image. Sending a dvd is like meeting with a person, in some ways better than meeting with a person (because the dvd can be replayed and shared). And one can get a small run of dvds out very quickly.

I think there is vast potential for using quickly produced, small edition dvds to prepare for face-to-face meetings. This has implications for political negotiations, for intense intellectual dialogue, and especially for teaching. I can imagine, for example, a teacher doing a general dvd of comments after a writing assignment, giving everyone a copy, and then scheduling individual appointments as followup.

Astonishing things happen as consumers become producers.

Posted by shea0017 at 10:24 AM